Iran heats up

Interesting times in Iran, as upwards of 120 members of Parliament resign to protest the mullahs’ disqualification of candidates in upcoming elections.

The Iranian “street” has been quiet so far, but if that changes, things could get even more interesting.

Three weeks of daily sit-ins by legislators at the parliament had brought the reformers scant visible sympathy among the population. Many residents, recalling hollow ultimatums in earlier confrontations with hard-liners, had doubted the reformers would follow through on their repeated threats to step down.

But Sunday’s developments on the floor of parliament, broadcast live on Tehran Radio, brought an air of expectancy, at least to part of the capital.

“Today’s resignation showed that they are honest and determined in their claims,” said Mohammad Amin, a metallurgy student at Tehran Polytechnic. “I think that we should do our best to support them.”

The Office for Fostering Unity, regarded as the most important student organization, said it would hold a protest in support of the lawmakers on the Polytechnic campus on Tuesday. Another group scheduled a meeting at Tehran University on Wednesday.

It’s likely some kind of compromise will stave off a full-fledged confrontation. On the other hand it’s possible that even Khatami and the reformists will be unable to control the events they set in motion.

This is unfolding during what are supposed to be the “10 Days of Dawn” marking the 25th anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini’s return from exile. I mentioned in an earlier post a report about an international “revolutionary jamboree” scheduled for Tehran during those days. According to another brief report on the gathering:

Iranian officials said the conference to discuss strategy against the United States and its allies will begin on Sunday and last 10 days. They said Iran, in wake of an intense debate that pitted reformers against conservatives, has invited such organizations as Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and Al Qaida allies such as Ansar Al Islam.

…Officials said the conference, ordered by Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, marks Iran’s investment in fostering Islamic insurgency groups in the Middle East, Asia and South America.

I suppose it’s too much to hope that their host Khamenei and his mullahcracy will be drivien from power during their conference. But here’s hoping.